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Black Bean Sauce

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This black bean sauce is great to have on hand for a quick and delicious meal.

If you want to make delicious Chinese black bean dishes at home, you have got to try this black bean sauce recipe. I usually double the recipe so that I have some on hand whenever I crave a good black bean dish such as beef and black bean sauce

All you need to do is add this prepared sauce to a stir fry with a little stock and you’ve got a delicious stir fry sauce in minutes. By the way, Do Not Soak The Black Beans!


Black bean sauce

What is Chinese black bean sauce?

Chinese black bean sauce, also known as “black bean garlic sauce” is a rich and flavourful condiment commonly used in Chinese cuisine. It is made from fermented black soybeans, garlic, ginger and other seasonings. The sauce has a distinctive umami flavour and a savoury, slightly sweet taste.

The black beans are fermented in salt so you will find them to be quite salty. This recipe is different to most out there and I have been making it for decades. 

How is this black bean sauce different to the others?

Most recipes you will find for black bean sauce call for the salted black beans to be rinsed and soaked before adding to the sauce. In this version, which I learned from a Chinese chef I knew during my uni years, the beans are not soaked or rinsed. He told me that was the biggest mistake people make when preparing black bean sauce.

You might think that the sauce would be too salty by leaving the beans as they are. The thing is, when you soak and rinse the beans, you lose a lot of the umami flavour that makes them so good. Why would you want to do that?

As this black bean sauce is saltier than other recipes, you just need to adjust the other savoury flavours you add to the dish you are cooking. Don’t add as much soy sauce or salt for example. Just taste as you go and you will be amazed at how much better this black bean sauce is.

Can you soak the beans before adding to this recipe?

Of course you can. I have experimented though and have always gone back to the original no-soak method. If you do decide to soak your black beans, just wash them and let them soak for about 30 minutes. Soaking the black beans makes them easier to smash but they really aren’t all that difficult to smash anyway.

Smashing soaked black beans.

Smashing soaked black beans for a sauce. Yes, I really have tried the soaking method but this unsoaked method get superior results with no loss of flavour.

How do you prepare black bean sauce?

It’s really quite easy and all of the ingredients, except for the fermented black beans are easy to source in your local supermarket. The black beans can be found at Asian grocers and also online. Following is a breakdown of how this black beans sauce is prepared:

  1. Chopping the black beans: Finely chop the fermented black beans. Then push about a quarter of the chopped beans to one side and smash the rest. I like to have a variety of sizes in my sauce, from completely smashed to whole beans with lots of finely chopped beans which makes the dish much more interesting.
  2. Frying the aromatics: Fry the garlic, ginger and spring onions (scallions) in the oil for about a minute to soften.
  3. Adding the beans: Add the chopped and smashed black beans, sugar, soy sauce, rice vinegar, Shaoxing wine and the Chinese chilli flakes, if using. Give it all a good stir to combine.
  4. To finish: Add the chicken stock and slurry and simmer until half the liquid has dissolved and you have a nice, thick black bean sauce.

Can you purchase black bean sauce?

Yes. So if you don’t want to make it yourself, you can purchase a jar. There are some good brands out there but nothing compares to homemade!

Get yourself a jar and taste the difference. I think you’ll always opt for homemade after you try this recipe!

Black bean sauce in a jar. Commercial brand.

Taste and compare. You are going to love homemade black bean sauce!

How do you use this sauce?

You can follow a recipe but you really don’t need to. Next time you stir fry, add this sauce to the wok. You can add it to meat, poultry, fish and vegetables. It is also delicious simply stirred into cooked egg noodles.

You might need to add a bit of stock to your wok if you want more sauce. You can thicken the sauce by adding a slurry of cornflour and water as in this beef in black bean recipe.

How long can you keep this sauce in the fridge?

That depends on the chicken stock you use to make it. I prefer using fresh homemade Chinese chicken stock. Done this way, your black bean sauce will keep for about a week in the fridge.

If you use Chinese chicken stock powder to make your stock, your finished sauce will keep for about 3 weeks.

Can you freeze this sauce?

Yes and it freezes really well. This is a delicious sauce that is great to have on hand. So go ahead and make it and freeze it for later. 

You can freeze it for 6 months with little loss of flavour. Just let it defrost completely before adding to your stir fry.

Step by step photographs.

Ingredients for the sauce.

Get all of your ingredients together before you start cooking.

Chopping the black beans.

Finely chop the black beans. You can have a variety of finely chopped and coursely chopped beans.

Smashing the black beans.

Lightly smash about 3 quarters of the beans. This can be done to preference. I like a bit of texture so I don’t smash all the beans.

Frying garlic, ginger and spring onions (scallions) in a wok.

Heat the sesame and rapeseed (canola) oil over a medium high heat and add the garlic, ginger and spring onions (scallions). Fry for about a minutes.

Adding the black beans and dried chilli flakes to the wok.

Add the chopped and smashed black beans, sugar, soy sauce, rice vinegar, Shaoxing wine and the Chinese chilli flakes, if using. Give it all a good stir to combine.

Adding the chicken stock and slurry to the wok.

Add the chicken stock and corn flour (cornstarch) slurry and bring to a simmer.

A spoonful of the black finished black beans sauce.

Allow to simmer for about 3 minutes or until most of the stock has dissolved and you have a nice thick sauce.

black bean sauce

Your black beans sauce is now ready to use in a stir fry.

Want to try a few popular Chinese recipes? I’ve got them for you. Try some of these…

  1. General Tso’s Chicken
  2. Crispy Chicken and Broccoli
  3. Salt and Pepper Chicken
  4. Sesame Chicken
  5. Sweet and Sour Chicken
  6. Kung Pao Chicken
  7. Dan Dan Noodles
  8. Orange Chicken
  9. Hainan Chicken
  10. Spicy Chicken Chow Mein
  11. Mongolian Beef
  12. Chinese Crispy Beef
  13. Egg Drop Soup
  14. Spicy Won Ton Soup
  15. Egg Fried Rice
  16. Potstickers

Have you tried this black bean sauce recipe?

If yes, please give it a star rating in the recipe card below and leave a comment. I love receiving your feedback and I’m sure other readers of my blog do too. Thanks you.

Yield: 1 cup - serves 4

Black Bean Sauce

black bean sauce
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes


  • 4 tbsp fermented black beans
  • 1 tbsp rapeseed (canola) oil
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 spring onions (scallions), finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp Shaoxing Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce (more or less to taste)
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp granulated or caster sugar
  • 250ml (1 cup) unsalted or low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp corn flour (cornstarch) mixed with 3 tablespoons cold water to make a slurry


  1. Finely chop the fermented black beans, leaving some larger than the others. The beans can be chopped to preference.
  2. Put about a quarter of the chopped beans to one side and smash the rest. Again, how much you smash the beans is down to personal preference. Set aside.
  3. Heat the sesame and rapeseed (canola) oil in a wok or pan over a medium-high heat. When the oil begins to glisten, add the chopped garlic, ginger and spring onions (scallions) and fry for about a minute.
  4. Add the chopped and smashed black beans, sugar, soy sauce, rice vinegar, Shaoxing wine and the Chinese chilli flakes, if using. Give it all a good stir to combine.
  5. Now pour in the chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Then add the slurry to thicken the sauce. Simmer until the liquid has reduced by about half and you are left with a nice thick sauce.
  6. Store in the fridge until needed or freeze it for up to 6 months.


If you are on a low sodium diet, go ahead and rinse and soak the black beans. You black bean sauce will still be good.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 111Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 989mgCarbohydrates: 14gFiber: 2gSugar: 4gProtein: 4g

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